Jen here after a small hiatus. Let’s get right into it, as I’ve no idea of a smooth transition into this topic.
There have been things, like everyone else, in my life which I have perceived as inherently negative experiences. These experiences are defined, in my mind, as negative, by the filing system which shifts by the emotions I associate with everything. I am an extremely emotions based soul, but a logic based person. The significance may not be huge to some, but to me it has kept me alive.
In the past and indeed, as a young child, I learned that people do not want to be reminded of uncomfortable experiences or rather harsh truths in life. Perhaps reading this you’ll agree that this only stands to the gentle psyche of human nature. I have never been good at holding back the truth, as anyone who knows me can attest to. More often than not, this makes people uncomfortable and indeed, I grow unhappy with myself. Recent events, however, has changed my mind.
Several weeks ago – in truth it’s all a blur – I grew unwell. This sounds wrongfully dignified, as though I had some kind of polite tickle in the back of my throat. In short, I had a migraine so excruciating that I was sure that crumpled in my bed, I would die by pain. (Since I’ve learned one can’t die ‘by pain’ though I can assure you, I gave it my best try).
I am a trier. This is no wimpy or pathetic title I gained at the age of eleven as a horrendous set dancer. No, I am a machine who moves through a life of privilege, illness, talent and considerable luck, with determination of a set goal. So I picked up my chronic pain like a child, swung it on my hip and tried my best to heave both myself and death itself into the car onto the bus to my university city of Galway.
If this was a novel of the power of determination maybe my character would make it to the bus. But, alas, we are Jen-Land now – which is a cornucopia of the cruelly entertaining and unhumorously witty.
I made it twenty minutes (a tremendous accomplishment for which I should earn a medal) before I – not in so many words – asked my mother to pull over the car.
In all the graciousness of an Irish countryside I vomited spectacularly outside of a small house, on my hands and knees, from pain.
The pain was mercilessly raking my bones. I felt sure, as I crouched on the gravel, that if I were to touch my ears blood would surely be pumping from my disintegrating brain.
But no, nothing quite so dramatic. Just simply, more vomiting.
Yet the pain is not the point of this post, nor is hearing people tell me I’m strong for living as I do. None of that matters, truly, against the honesty of the situation. In that moment, as the gravel dug into my hands, I felt very human and the farthest I’ve ever felt from the fantasy worlds I create in my head.
My life was in sharp focus. It was as though someone turned up the saturation on an Instagram filter and what really mattered was what was in the darkest pitch of colour.
Tonight, some weeks after that event, I described the scene to my best friends. At one point I felt the usual squirm of discomfort as I referenced the situation with my health too honestly. I could see it on their faces – did they really want to know that I wished for death in that moment? Do you, now?
The answer must certainly be no. But it is the truth and I no longer feel a fear at stating my truth.
My name is Jennifer and I am a Leo with an incredible distaste for tea. Facts – as true as pain and suffering. Buffering, massaging and soothing such experiences with the rights words in order to please another’s senses seems illogical to me now.
This is not a case of ‘love me at my best and accept me at my worst’ – but simply a case of myself accepting me. I do not see good and bad when I look at myself any longer, I see only myself.
By branding something as particularly good or bad we lose an entire opportunity to accept the situation as any of the grey areas in between. Or to simply be the calmest we can be and remain neutral.
By denying ‘harsh’ truths to others or regretting honesty, we only serve to create regret associated with an event we can otherwise learn from. We must refuse to bow to another’s sensitivity.
By failing to be inherently comfortable in our personality-skin when we are vomiting at the side of a road or wearing a sparkling dress at a wedding, we give others the opportunity to answer the questions we must ask ourselves.
Yes, strength is a virtue. As is pain.
But in truth, what is a virtue without someone to live it?